Review published at author's request.
I’ll be honest, I was curious to read this book, in part because of some of the harshly critical reviews it has received. And, in truth, it is perhaps not as bad as some of them suggest, if you can get past its biggest flaw, which, for me, was the flippant, tongue-in-cheek way in which the author depicts the somewhat repugnant subject of consensual incest. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t find the subject matter particularly disturbing in any way, more so the fantastical nature of this book – the main brother and sister characters lead a B-grade rock star lifestyle, whilst carrying on their tawdry relationship, indiscreetly, beneath the gaze of everyone who knows them, and for the most part this is accepted. I’m not sure if the book was intended to be erotic - though it contains a fair amount of adult sexual material – instead, I just found it a bit unsavoury, and too flippant and jokey to be emotive or provocative in any way. Newton does have a tendency, at times, to emphasize the more vulgar aspects of the day-to-day, rather than gloss over life with a Mills and Boon sheen, so erotica and romance is – thankfully - not a consideration for genre, for this somewhat ambiguous book. At one point, midway, it does become genuinely quite gripping, and I found myself eager to find out what would happen next, but ultimately, the opportunity for serious drama and implication in this book are overlooked, for a more fanciful narrative. An example of this is the insatiable sexuality of the main characters, despite supposedly having been together for many years as a couple – this is a characteristic when applied to more taboo or minority relationships in fiction.
One area in which I felt “The Sinister Urge” fell short was with the confusing flashback scenes, and the lack of any linear chronology to this; it does jump about a touch, as random events from the past are intercut to give context to present events, in the first-person narrative of either main character. This also presents a few moments of the characters’ childhood, which did scratch a little beneath my comfort layer, but fortunately Newton didn’t subject us to too much detail, in their respect.
Generally, I think the writing is lacking the kind of sophistication such a book as this may have required, and would also suggest that the apparent absence of a professional proofread has probably harmed its reviews considerably. I was sent the print-ready, typeset proof, and whilst professionally written and presented, I did find the language used to be a touch deficient: the sentences were short and punchy, when the prose could have been remarkably improved and matured by more fluid language and a far better use of punctuation. Indeed, I found the whole book to be littered with grammatical errors and mistakes throughout. On a positive note, Newton’s writing style has a nice, relaxed pace to it, and I found “The Sinister Urge” very easy to read, in just a couple of sittings. With a touch of polish, I think this book could be improved dramatically, and perhaps resemble something closer to which the author intended.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: frances-newton sexual incest erotic drama